Bespoke Website Design Vs Off-The-Shelf: What’s The Difference?

It’s no secret that in 2019 you can easily create a website for well under £100 (often free!), but aside from the apparent benefit of cuttings costs, is free always ‘OK’?

With a little technical know-how and some time on your hands, you can buy yourself a WordPress theme, write content, upload images, and you have yourself a website.

For many, this is a viable option. For example, when using a website to manage your businesses finances, it’s hard to justify paying thousands of pounds. However, a website used to attract genuine customers requires a control panel that will set you apart from your competition.

In this case, there are only two options to choose between, and those are a bespoke website design or an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. Here are a few arguments for and against each option. This list is by no means exhaustive but should give you some food for thought.

What is an ‘Off-The-Shelf’ website?

An ‘off-the-shelf’ website comes with pre-built templates, plugins and integration. These are ready-made and sold to the mass market – to please the majority! They adhere to the strictest in quality control to ensure they operate as intended with optimum levels of security, functionality and design.

However, there may be functions that you need now or in the future that are simply not available. That would mean adapting your business to fit the ‘off-the-shelf’ software, rather than working to meet your goals.

Advantages of Off-The-Shelf websites:

Simple set-up:

Opting for a pre-made template means that your website will be up and running sooner. If you are working to a deadline and need a website live in, let’s say, a month, then this could be the best option for you.

Do it yourself

You can install a theme and have a website up and running in a matter of minutes. The basic set-up of a website can be done with limited technical or creative abilities. However, the optimisation and population of visual content is not always so simple. It takes an SEO professional who will account for Google’s 200+ ranking factors to ensure that your website ranks in the search results and generates sales, so explore your options before rushing into a DIY option.

Basic SEO plugins:

Some off-the-shelf themes come with basic SEO plugins, which account for an essential checklist including keyword density, title length, alt text and more. This will help you get started in the process of on-site optimisation. However, keep in mind that these are set guidelines, and the process of SEO is far more complicated than following a handful of pre-set rules. Following these will not guarantee you a place on the first page of Google.

Disadvantages of ‘Off-The-Shelf’ websites:

Restricted design flexibility:

While some modern themes offer the flexibility to make changes to colours, fonts and layout, these changes are restricted to a limited template. Bespoke website design is not bound by these limitations as it is (as the name suggests), bespoke. You can be as creative and unique as you please.

Part of the herd:

Perhaps the single most frustrating aspect of an off-the-shelf website is the inability to make it your own.

The risk of using a template is that your website will look the same as others, or worse because most themes use blocks of content and layouts, it will be obvious that you are using a theme.

If you want to stand out as an industry leader who is known for putting time and effort into their internal marketing, then you may find an off-the-shelf website limiting.

Less secure:

The popularity of some off-the-shelf themes means that they are highly targeted by hackers. You can, of course, ramp up the security of these websites using plugins and add-ons, but the threat remains.

What is a ‘Bespoke Website Design?’

Bespoke website design is a hand-crafted and personalised to your business and goals. You are not restricted by templates. Everything is unique and built to stand the test of time. This gives you the flexibility to update your site as and when you please, rather than when a new template is released.

At Bigfoot Digital, we offer bespoke website design and development with SEO built-in to give you the best chance of ranking at the top of Google and converting those clicks into customers. Explore our ecommerce website design page for all the details.

Advantages of bespoke website design


The key benefit of bespoke website design is that it will grow and develop with your business. This means that all future changes can be made with little hassle. As technology evolves and customer expectations heighten, it’s important to have a website that can move with the times. Templates are limited and don’t always come with the desired updates and features required to impress your visitors.

Competitive advantage:

What’s great about having a bespoke website design is knowing that no one in the world will have the same website as you. Your website is unique, tailored to meet customer expectations and deliver a seamless browsing experience. You can set yourself apart with interactive graphics, animation and user experience improvements.

Bespoke web design project for a client.

Bespoke website design for

Our Senior Website Developers designed this website for our long-standing SEO client, Accept Cards. Their existing website had all the essential elements, such as responsive design, secure protocol and optimisation. However, it didn’t stand out from the crowd.

We created an entirely bespoke website design for the client with the addition of animation and graphics that encourage user engagement. Through making these changes to the functionality of the site, their traffic has more than doubled, and they are now ranking on pages 1 and 2 for their most competitive keywords.

Save time:

A bespoke website is your intellectual property. You can make changes as you wish, and none of these is essential or reliant on updating plugins. For example, an off-the-shelf website will likely utilise plugins, which need to be updated frequently to ensure your website operates without a hitch. When the plugins stop getting updated or you fail to do so, they will become a security risk and may slow down your website.

Disadvantages of bespoke website design:

Bespoke website design cost:

The only downside to note would be the initial bespoke website design cost. Yes, OK, it’s going to cost more to build an entirely unique website with optimisation included. But, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

“A bespoke website design will more than pay for itself in the long run. You will experience a return on investment as the quality of the site will ensure that people stick around to purchase.”

It also prevents you from making costly changes to your website over time, which is inevitable with an off-the-shelf solution. A bespoke website is designed to your specifications; there is no need to splash out on costly amends, such as the purchase of a new template, plugins or themes, which is often required with pre-made sites.

What website design package do you offer?

Helping you create a bespoke website design without limitations.

At Bigfoot Digital, we are all about finding a solution that meets the needs of your business. We offer both off-the-shelf and bespoke website design, as we like to be flexible to the needs of the individual business. We spend valuable time getting to know your business and current operates so that we can propose the best solution possible. Second best is not good enough and we will work hard to ensure that your website exceeds all expectations.

Click on the options below to explore our website design packages: